Hey Startup Weekend Community!
There seems to be some chatter regarding the new SW judging criteria so I wanted to open up this for discussion to all of you. The previous criteria was something that was tested at multiple events and something we had gotten feedback from our community on but as you know iterations are continuous. I wanted to offer a couple things to note that we should always remember plus a non-official iterated version that is up for feedback. Let me know your thoughts! (And please disregard typos, I wrote this off 3 cups of coffee and was just super excited to ship this post!)
1. The SW Pitch is different than an Investor Pitch. There are two main goals of the SW experience, first is experiential education on how to take pure concepts through the first steps of validation (in a very lean process). Second is providing an environment to also learn co-founder dynamics. These are the reasons why we only have pure concepts that come into SW’s and why we have our chaotic team formation process. Knowing these two things, after two days these teams realistically shouldn’t be at the level where they are raising capital from investors, there just hasn’t been enough work put into the ideas. Any smart investor will ask for more validation, more data and more work.
2. Design is not just how things look. There is a misconception that design is just about visually dressing up a product when in reality it is probably the complete opposite. Design at it’s essence is a process for solving problems. Design is about empathizing with your users to let their needs inspire innovative solutions. Just like how developers use agile and how business people use customer development, designers use design thinking as their creative process and takes proper execution to come up with remarkable designs.
3. We celebrate all parts of our community. Another big part to our purpose at SW is the growth of new entrepreneurs into the global startup movement. A big part to why we have been able to do that is by celebrating all parts of our community and not excluding people. We feel like being able to show appreciation to all major skill sets was necessary and reflected in our judging criteria revamp. Potentially the best way to do this is instead of creating a first, second and third place you could create “Best Design”, “Best Product Execution” and “Best Overall Startup Potential”.
4. The best SW team should be one that has shown effectively that all parts of a diverse founding team can collaborate in our intense time frame. A rockstar founding team is usually diverse and has the ability to create a common language amongst that group to execute on a high level. They aren’t JUST designers or JUST devs but a combination of backgrounds who can manage an entire project through the early stage startup process.
…So, here are my revised SW Judging criteria.
– Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (be it software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimal feature set to be able to start collecting data.
– How many iterations of the product have the done throughout the weekend? Successful product execution should be able to show you a roadmap of where they started and how they have collected data to evolve their product. A great SW team should be able to make it through many cycles of data collection throughout the weekend.
– Were they able to demo something functional?
Business Model Validation
– Can you identify a clear customer segment?
– Can you identify a clear value proposition to that customer?
– How many customers did you talk to in the weekend?
– How have you validated your solution with the customers?
– How will you acquire customers?
– What differentiates your model from competitors?
– What are your users core needs?
– How many users have you engaged with?
– What feedback have you gotten to inspire your user feature set?
– Tell me based off your user insights why your product looks this way?
– Tell me based off your user insights why your product feels this way?
– Who is your team made up of?
– Why can this team take your idea to the next level?
– What has your team done this weekend to show you can go above and beyond all other startups to become successful?
Would love to hear your feedback to ensure we are constantly improving! Thanks!